Nanotechnology seems to be the next revolution in electronics.
It won't be just an electronics revolution, it will be The Next
Revolution, when-and-if it actually happens. It certainly COULD
happen, though it may take many more years/decades before we read
anything other than research advances. It's been many years since a
few atoms were arranges on a surface to say "IBM."
If you asked experts 20 or 40 years ago, the vast majority of
electric power was supposed to be generated by controlled fusion by
the 21st Century. There has been lots of research on it, and steady
but slow progress, but it's still not commercially viable. I recall
reading about Josephson junctions, bubble memories that someone
mentioned (hey, there were actual bubble memory products, if you
didn't blink), and many other technologies that for one reason or
another didn't (at least yet) pan out. Nanotechnology might end up
taking a similarly long development path before it ends up in
Will this mean the BJT, FET etc will go the way of the vacuum tube
and we will have to learn about new devices all over again.
Or will BJT's FETs opamps etc be still in use?
These will still be in use, at least for a while after
nanotechnology appears. I suspect that analog electronics won't be
quickly or directly replaced by analog nanoelectronics. It will most
likely be used to make digital circuits, since that's where a huge
number of very small, low-powered devices is most desired. While it
may be possible to make nano-analog parts (perhaps as enhancements of
'perfect' transistor devices such as National's LM394), I think it
more likely that many analog devices will eventually be replaced by
nano-digital circuits made of high-resolution, high-speed A/D's, DSP's
and D/A's. Nanoelectronic chips will surely interface directly to
standard electronics, at least to begin with.
This is fun stuff to speculate on, but I don't think you'll have to
worry about having to learn these 'new, special parts' for a while.
[now that I say that, no doubt IBM will announce 'grey goo' growing
out of their labs' HVAC exhaust ducts next week]
Here are a couple of online books on nanotechnology (also available
in bookstores) by K. Eric Drexler, a strong proponent. I've read the
first [actually had the book for years, but only read it recently,
prompted by Crichton's "Prey"), and am in the middle of the second
one. There's a description of computers made of nano-MECHANICAL parts,
running at about a million operations per second, but nanotechnology
easily offers several orders of magnitude faster operation for
electronic rather than mechanical devices. Current IC digital
technology is obviously into the Gigahertz range, and there's every
reason to think nanoelectronics will be substantially faster.